- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - Transgender community leaders and supporters are calling on Hawaii education officials to implement policies and training for staff to help ensure the safety and fair treatment of transgender students.

A group of supporters delivered a petition to Board of Education staff on Tuesday with more than 5,400 signatures seeking a gender diversity policy and training for DOE employees, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/1rw9sgL).

“We have some very simple requests . and that is that consistent guidelines be established so that students of all genders are not only treated fairly, but feel safe, feel valued and feel appreciated in whatever school that they are in,” said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a transgender woman who was recently a “Champions of Change” award recipient by the White House. She chose to forgo the awards event in Washington, D.C., this week to be at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Wong-Kalu said the petition was created in support of a recent Kahuku High and Intermediate School graduate. The former student claims she was not allowed to participate as a woman in commencement exercises last spring.

DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz denies the allegations and said the department has drafted proposed guidelines aimed at helping schools support transgender students. She said existing policies prohibit the harassment, bullying and discrimination of any student.

“The new guidance is really to provide an overview of the common issues that have been raised and the concerns that need to be addressed, as well as providing appropriate supports for transgender students and the school community,” Dela Cruz said.

The new guidelines will cover topics including access to bathrooms, preferred names and pronouns and sports. They are under review by the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office and officials are looking to implement them and training next school year.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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